Keeping Chickens in Singapore: How to Take Proper Care of This Pet at Home
Keeping Silkie chickens as pets in Singapore is slowly becoming a rising trend—they are adorable to look at, intelligent (some say they are as smart as a three-year-old child) and fairly easy to care for.
Among our Tatler friends, Jazz Chong, the founder and owner of Ode to Art gallery and her architect husband, Edmund Ng, owns four Silkie chickens of their own while entrepreneur Stephanie Er owns Brahmas chickens.
With more Singaporeans expressing interest in keeping chickens as opposed to traditional pets like cats and dogs, it is also important to note that illegal breeding and abandonment of these beautiful creatures continue to remain high which makes it difficult for legitimate pet owners to acquire them.
Here, we look at the realities and legalities of making this decision as well as how you can best prepare yourself to house a chicken.
Are chickens really that difficult to maintain as pets?
Generally, many websites will tell you that keeping a chicken is fairly easy. They don't require much grooming and they simply need a clean environment for them to thrive.
However, the reality, as many chicken owners will tell you, is very different.
To find out more, we speak to Noel Tan, one of the founders of Clucking Good, a website that educates the public about keeping chickens as pets as well as sells food, accessories and supplements for chickens.
Tan and his team regularly put out guides about caring for chickens mainly because owners often do not have enough information and tend to be ill-equipped in handling these animals.
He said: "Chicken keeping and caring for chicks can be much more difficult than people expect due to their small, fragile sizes and their nutritional requirements which often go unmet."
He added that chickens actually need a lot of space. In Singapore, you are only allowed to keep chickens if you live on private residential property. Even then, you can only keep 10 chickens. Not to mention, you need to ensure that you and your neighbours are OK with the fact that chickens can be quite noisy creatures. In fact, many chickens have to be rehomed because of complaints from neighbours.
You also need to be prepared to be doing a lot of cleaning up. Tan mentions that there is a misconception when it comes to chickens being able to clean themselves. He said that most chickens will sand bathe. Sand bathing is when a chicken uses fine sand or dirt to keep their feathers clean and to get rid of mites, lice and other parasites.
This is often confused with self-cleaning. However, chickens do need to still be cleaned because they cannot be litter trained. This means that they will defecate where they please and will need to have their bedding changed regularly. According to Tan, many chicken owners opt to simply shower their pets.
What else do I need to know before committing to a chicken?
One of the highest reasons for abandonment when it comes to chickens is a lack of education. Many people make impulse decisions when it comes to bringing in a chicken, thinking that it will be easy and then quickly find out that there is a lot more involved in it.
When asked what he thinks people should know before bringing a chicken into their home, Tan immediately brought up the fact that one must be ready for their chickens to be male and for there to be crowing.
"Chicks usually can't be gender identified which means that they can be roosters," he said. He added that roosters still deserve love and care. However, one must be prepared for this ambiguity.
You also need to prepared that your chicken might be noisy, particularly when they are laying eggs.
What are some perks to having chickens as pets?
Besides the fact that chickens are affectionate, gentle and can be trained to follow you around or call for your attention, one huge perk is the fact that you can get eggs from them
However, ensure that you get the correct breed for this. In fact, Tan urged potential owners to figure out if they want a chicken as a pet or for the laying of eggs first.
He says firmly: "Do your research. Do you want a chicken as a pet or for eggs? Not all chickens lay well. Silkies are cute but terrible layers."
Are there ways I can responsibly acquire a chicken?
If you've done all your research and have decided that you are ready for a chicken in your home, you can start looking for a chicken through adoption or rehoming groups or you can incubate and grow your chicken if you are able to get eggs.
Currently, many chickens in Singapore get abandoned simply because their owner was not ready for the commitment. This is what inspired Tan to start Chicken Adoption Rescue SG, a group that takes in abandoned chickens or ones that need to be rehomed and get them into better homes or places where they can be looked after.
Tan was very firm when he mentioned that it is important for a potential owner to know what they are doing before getting a chicken.
He says: "Abandonment cases are increasing and while we understand people might not know where to rehome their chickens, abandoning them is a death sentence. Often, chickens are unable to find water sources and they can quickly die from anything from predators to heat strokes."
You can find some beautiful chickens on their Facebook page and you can adopt them through Tan and his team. Unlike animals such as dogs, there are usually no psychological issues related to abandonment when it comes to chickens. In fact, they will adapt to their new home within a matter of a few days.
Another option is to incubate an egg if you have the resources to do so.
Whichever option you decide to go with, ensure that you are careful to remain within the bounds of the law (breeding of these birds for sale is illegal in Singapore) and that you are prepared for the commitment. When taken care of well, a chicken can be an incredible addition to your family and can provide a lot of joy and excitement.